‘Happy’ New Year ……

I haven’t blogged for ages so thank you to those of you reading this! I think we can all probably say ‘what a year’ and it has been tough for most people and for some people just horrific.

My mental health has certainly taken even more of a battering and I am growing increasingly nervous about January, never a good month for me but not being able to do the things that normally get me through this month is going to make it even harder.

I decided to write a blog post with a difference – one where I look at all the positives of this past year so that I have something to carry me through January and beyond.

January last year started as normal for us, a very busy end of the previous term meant a quiet start to January but not being at work during the Christmas break gives me an opportunity to organise myself, little did we know that these quiet cosy evenings, just the two of us which we always enjoy at this time of the year were to become the norm in 2020.

The first two months of any year sees a huge number of birthdays in our family. By the time of lockdown we had celebrated my lovely mother in laws 70th, all 3 nephew and nieces turning 5, 3 and 1 and a few other family birthdays and therefore lots of gatherings, cake and of course Prosecco! The sudden halt to this was therefore an even bigger shock to the system!

My first positive of the pandemic has to be the increased time spent with Alan. He has been incredible, a huge support, great company and we have probably laughed more this year amongst all the trauma than ever before. We have journeyed together and our relationship is even stronger than it was before. I was so lucky to marry my best friend and there are things we will never stop doing even after covid. We have listened more, talked more and watched far too much television but we did it together!

Not only am I blessed to have Alan I am also blessed to have a wonderful wider family. Many families have probably been grateful to technology this year and ours is certainly no exception. Being able to read bedtime stories to our niece and nephew via Zoom was a huge privilege and joy. Being able to FaceTime our other much younger nephew and see him grow from a baby to a little boy was amazing. There were lots of doorsteps chats and deliveries and we all helped each other. As we were able to form ‘bubbles’ this was a real support especially with Mum and the good weather meant for lots of garden fun! In the summer I was also able to visit France to see Dad and Flo after Dad had been quite unwell in early July. Another opportunity to thank God for the amazing healthcare which we are so lucky to have.

This year did see breaks in restrictions and never had a break in the New Forest or a weekend in Butlins been so welcomed! Not only did they provide a change of scenery but also some normality in between the chaos. We certainly continued to make memories in 2020 – they were just different and in some ways even more special!

In January I started a new role as Church Secretary. It was a rather daunting prospect, not only was I taking over from someone who was a brilliant Church Secretary I also was under no illusion of the huge honour it was to serve God and a very special Church family in this way. For 40 years I had been cared for, loved by and most importantly prayed for by this fantastic community and to be part of the leadership team in this way was at times overwhelming to think about.

Reaching out in faith to all people in our community has always been a priority for the Church and this year has helped us to do this even more than we could of ever imagined. We have come together in the most incredible way, to pray, to worship, to chat, to laugh, to cry and to love like never before. I along with many others have embraced YouTube, Zoom and discovered a love of video editing and got excited with purchases such as ring lights and recording microphones!

I am so proud to be part of Christ Church Petts Wood under the leadership of such an inspirational minister Nadene who has encouraged and loved us so much. Big love also to those within our congregation that have discovered and learnt new tech skills in order to stay connected – you are all amazing!

I count myself very lucky to be employed as we come to the end of 2020. So many people have lost their jobs this year and added financial struggle to the challenges faced this year. We are both fortunate to work for a college but also one that has supported its staff and students very well under enormous pressure and uncertainty. Never before have I been so proud of where I work and especially of my team who have juggled childcare, caring responsibilities, poor health, new university degrees and many other things so admirably! The Teams calls with children lightened often difficult moments!

Zoom and Teams not only helped work and Church stay connected but also provided a link and opportunity to carry on with another of my great loves! Brownies was such a wonderful respite to any week. Even at my lowest ebb in April and May the weekly Zooms with our excited and determined Brownies kept me going! I have admired all young people this year, from the youngest to those at university, they have been through so much but often through the simple things they have said or done have reminded us about what is truly important. It was a joy to see them each week. Apologies to any brownie parents reading this whose houses were turned upside down by Tawny Owl deciding to do a scavenger hunt on a Friday evening via Zoom!

Finally and by no means least I have continued to be blessed by my friends this year. From the weekly zooms and garden meet ups with the ‘Skiv’s’ to being able to attend the wedding of dear friends, to a outdoor meet up with a special couple as they welcomed their baby son. This year has also been the year when many of our WhatsApp groups have doubled! For me this has been a lifeline and also the time to make longer phone calls has been another positive for sure.

As 2020 comes to a close it has certainly shown me so much love and given me some amazing opportunities. Yes it has been extraordinarily difficult at times and we are going to continue to need to hold on to the hope, love and joy from 2020 to get us through the next few months at least.

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